Who We Are

About the Centre

The Centre’s vision is a world where human differences are valued and diverse societies thrive.

Founded in Ottawa by His Highness the Aga Khan in partnership with the Government of Canada, the Global Centre for Pluralism is an independent, charitable organization. Inspired by Canada’s experience as a diverse and inclusive country, the Centre was created to advance positive responses to the challenge of living peacefully and productively together in diverse societies.

Through research, education and knowledge exchange, the Centre’s programs:

  • Deepen understanding of the sources of inclusion and exclusion in Canada and around the world
  • Chart pathways to pluralism in specific places and cases
  • Catalyze knowledge exchange and learning about the policies and practices that support pluralism
  • Build awareness of the benefits of inclusive societies

“What a wonderful, liberating thing it would be if more of us, more of the time, could see diversity not as a burden, but as a blessing; not as a threat, but as an opportunity.”

His Highness the Aga Khan

The Centre was established with contributions from both the Government of Canada and His Highness the Aga Khan. Both founding partners have invested $35 million in the Centre to form an endowment fund and to revitalize the Centre’s landmark headquarters in Ottawa.

His Highness the Aga Khan, the spiritual leader of the world’s Ismaili Muslims, had long been interested in Canada’s experience of pluralism. His close ties with Canada go back almost four decades, to the time when many thousands of Asian refugees from Uganda, including many Ismailis, were welcomed into Canadian society.

Although still a work in progress, respect for diversity is a defining characteristic of Canada and a core element of the country’s identity. In his 2010 Lafontaine-Baldwin Lecture, His Highness said, “My interest in launching the Global Centre for Pluralism reflected my sense that there was yet no institution dedicated to the question of diversity in our world, and that Canada’s national experience made it a natural home for this venture.”

In 2006, His Highness the Aga Khan and the Government of Canada formed a partnership to launch the Global Centre for Pluralism. The Centre’s first staff member, our inaugural Secretary General John McNee, was appointed by the Board in September 2011 and the Centre’s initial work began.

Global Headquarters

330 Sussex Drive in Ottawa is a Canadian heritage landmark that first housed the Public Archives (1905-1967) and then the Canadian War Museum (1967-2005). The revitalization of the building to serve as the new international headquarters of the Global Centre for Pluralism came to a conclusion in 2016. The Centre moved its operations to the new facility in January and officially opened in May 2017.

330 Sussex Drive was built between 1904 and 1906 by the Chief Dominion Architect of the time, David Ewart, whose other notable Ottawa buildings include the Royal Canadian Mint and the Canadian Museum of Nature. The award-winning Canadian firm KPMB Architects have led the transformation of 330 Sussex Drive into the Centre’s headquarters. Considerable investments have been made by His Highness the Aga Khan to bring this building back to life with full respect for its important heritage.

Learn more about the history and rehabilitation of 330 Sussex Drive.

Annual Reports & Corporate Plans

Bilingual reports are submitted to the Government of Canada on a yearly basis outlining the Centre’s plans and priorities.